The sons of Abraham

Moses was a descendant of Abraham.  He gave the world the Torah, which he said was based on revelations given to him by God.  Judaism is based on the teachings contained in this book.

Muhammad was a descendant of Abraham.  He gave the world the Koran, which he said was based on revelations given to him by God.  Islam is based on the teachings contained in this book.

The similarity between these two men isn’t just a coincidence.

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Reaping and sowing

Chapter four of John describes a meeting between Jesus and a Samaritan woman.

So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)
John 4:5-8

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The Euthyphro dilemma

Plato wrote of a conversation between Socrates and a man named Euthyphro in which this question was raised: Does God command us to do things because they are good or are they good because God commands them?   Many people feel that either answer creates a problem.  If God commands us to do things because they are good that implies that there is a standard of goodness independent of God to which he must conform.  If the things God commands are good because he commands them then good and evil exist only because of God’s arbitrary decision to call certain thing good and others evil.  This problem is known as the Euthyphro dilemma.

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The shroud of Turin

Here is what Wikipedia says about the shroud of Turin.

The Shroud of Turin is a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion.  There is no consensus yet on exactly how the image was created, and it is believed by many to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth.

Scientists have studied the shroud and haven’t been able to determine whether or not the image is that of Jesus but there is another way to answer the question.  That is to study what the Bible says about what Jesus was buried in and see if it matches the description of the shroud.  John’s gospel give us the information we need.

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Science or history?

A physician who has made a complete examination of a person without having been told his age could probably make an accurate estimate of it because of his knowledge of how the aging process works. But what would happen if he were to travel back in time and examine Adam and Eve immediately after they were created and was then asked to estimate their age?   If he didn’t know they had been created directly he would assume they had been born as babies and base his estimate on how long it would take for them to reach their present state if they had undergone the normal aging process.  The result would be that his estimate would be much higher than their actual age.

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Marriage equality

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17

The nation of Israel was established by God to be the means of bringing Christ into the world so that he could atone for our sins by his death.  God gave Israel a system of laws that included animal sacrifices, dietary laws, and the observance of special days.  These laws were symbols of what Christ would do; they have served their purpose we are no longer required to follow them.

Today there is another God given practice that is a symbol of something that is still in the future: marriage.

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Know who your enemy is

There is a war going on between God and Satan.  When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a soldier in God’s army and a participant in that war.  In order to wage war effectively we must know who our enemy is.

When we look at what is going on in the world we see many who are doing and advocating things that violate God’s commands.  Some believe that women should have the absolute right to kill their unborn children.  Others believe there is nothing wrong with homosexual activity and that the government should allow marriages between two people of the same sex.  Militant Muslims use force to impose their beliefs on others.

These people are not the ones we are fighting.

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Brainwashing

God commands parents to teach their children the Bible.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

There are people who don’t believe the Bible and don’t think it should be taught to children.  Some claim that parents who teach their children the Bible are brainwashing them.  Those who make this claim are right; children who are taught the Bible are being brainwashed.

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Intolerant love

Shortly before his crucifixion Jesus gave this command to his disciples.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
John 13:34

In order to carry out this command we must take a look at how Jesus loves us.  There are two places where he describes his love.

The first one is well known.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

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Moving out of Ephesus

My new year’s resolution for 2014 is to move out of Ephesus.

I mean this in a spiritual rather than a geographic sense.  The second chapter of Revelation begins with Jesus telling John to write a letter to the church in Ephesus.

He commended them for the good they were doing.

I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.
Revelation 2:2-3

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Does God hate fags?

The Westboro Baptist Church is famous for its public protests and demonstrations in which many of the participants carry signs saying “God hates fags.”  The name of the church’s website is godhatesfags.com.

Are they right?  Does God hate fags?

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Joy to the World

There are many lists of the most popular Christmas carols.  The lists differ from each other but Joy to the World can be found on almost all of them.

This hymn shouldn’t be on any of these lists because it isn’t about Christmas at all.   It is about the future return of Christ.

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666 and RFID chips

This is from Alexander Pope’s poem An Essay in Criticism.

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring.
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

(In Greek mythology the Pierian spring was a fountain which was sacred to the Muses and imparted learning to anyone who drank from it.)

There are times when having just a little learning about what the Bible says can be a dangerous thing.

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Genealogies

The Bible contains many genealogies.  They can be  very boring and when I read through the Bible I often skim over them without studying them in detail but they do shed light on one very controversial issue regarding the interpretation of the Bible.

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A curse in disguise

When someone bad happens to someone but  good results from it the experience is sometimes called a blessing in disguise.  But often people experience something that at first seems good but has harmful results.  One example of this is people who have won a large amount of money in a lottery and then found their lives ruined as a result.  I have never heard anyone call such an event a curse in disguise but it would be an accurate description.

One time Jesus encountered a curse in disguise but wasn’t hurt by it because he recognized it for what it really was.

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Doublethink

The word “doublethink” was first used by George Orwell in his novel 1984.  It means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

Orwell invented the word but the practice existed long before he was born.  First Kings 18 describes the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal to determine who is the true God.  Here is what Elijah said to the people.

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”
1 Kings 18:21

Some of the people practiced doublethink by worshipping both Baal and the LORD.  God condemned this practice and demanded that they choose one side or the other.

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Identity theft

Identity theft is a major problem and all of us must take precautions to protect ourselves from it.  It is not a new problem; Christians have been victims of it in the past.  In fact we have had more that one identity stolen from us.

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Sacrificing Ishmael

Everyone who is familiar with the Bible knows that God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Most don’t realize that before this Abraham had been commanded to sacrifice his other son, Ishmael.

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Insanity

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
Luke 5:1-5

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  By Einstein’s definition Simon’s response to Jesus was insane.  Not only had he fished all night without results but he was a professional fisherman while Jesus was a carpenter.  Logically he should have been the one telling Jesus how to fish.

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Ear, hand, and foot

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.

And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
Luke 5:12-14

Jesus told him to go to the priest because the Mosaic law required that an offering be made by anyone who had been cleansed from leprosy.

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